Employees Place High Value on Retirement Planning Tools, Financial Wellness, According to CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions Survey

MADISON, Wis.  When ranking their interest in retirement education components, employee plan participants surveyed by CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions indicated they were most interested in financial wellness topics and a desire to better understand retirement planning tools and resources available to them.

The 2018 Retirement Education Preferences Survey was conducted to provide plan sponsors insight into what retirement topics plan participants are most interested in, what educational resources they want to help guide them to financial security in their retired years, and how well they understand their retirement plans. The survey delves into demographic trends to offer further insight into how age and gender differences may impact retirement education preferences.

“The survey is all about supporting retirement plan participants in their personal journeys toward long-term financial security,” said Jennifer Norr, CUNA Mutual Group vice president of Consumer Experience Marketing. “The more we understand what matters to our participants, the better we can help them remove savings obstacles and build a strong foundation for their lives today and throughout retirement.” 

Plan participants were asked to rank their interest in various financial and retirement education planning areas including: understanding tools and resources; smart retirement savings practices; basic investment principles; budgeting and managing debt; advanced investment principles; and preparing to transition to retirement. Sponsors representing 321 retirement plans administered on the CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions’ BenefitsForYou website shared the survey with their employees. 

Overall, the 9,200 participants who responded were most interested in understanding the tools and resources available to help them. This was ranked as the top area of interest 25 percent of the time. It might indicate employees are interested in maximizing their returns and learning how their plan can help them prepare for retirement, but they are not certain they have all the information they need.

A secondary theme emerged as participants expressed a strong interest in basic financial wellness topics. This may indicate participants are facing challenges that impact their ability to increase their overall and retirement savings.

Regarding age-related insights, younger plan participants want to learn about budgeting and managing debt. Retirement is far off, and their interest appears to focus on more general financial wellness subjects.

Mid-career participants share a high concern for budgeting and managing debt, while expressing an interest in smart retirement savings practices. This group, ages 35-49 years old, have had more time to build up earnings compared with their peers who are earlier in their working years.

Older plan participants recognize that retirement is just around the corner. Survey respondents who are ages 50-plus are most interested in getting ready for that transition, which is not surprising.

As for gender, while both women and men expressed interest in budget and managing debt, the topic appears to be a somewhat higher concern for women. And men indicated more interest in advanced investment principles, along with a higher preference for interacting with a self-guided approach to education.

The survey also indicated that personalization and convenience are important. Retirement is not “one size fits all,” and time is limited.

“This information helps CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions continue to provide a diverse collection of financial education to meet the wide-ranging needs and interests of retirement plan participants. Plan sponsors and financial advisors can also leverage survey insights and the retirement education collection toward the same end,” Norr said.

The survey eBook and a participant infographic are available to be downloaded.